Friday, 10 April 2009

Thieves Paradise

Since today is Good Friday I thought I'd share this sketch from the show Burning Questions. I have to admit that this is one of my favourite sketches, not least because, although it always got big laughs, I was once accosted after a show and told I would probably burn in hell for mocking our Lord on the cross and should be ashamed of ever having written it. A little harsh I thought but see what you think.

THIEVES PARADISE

[THE SKETCH TAKES PLACE IN THE BAR OF THE LOCAL PUB. THE TWO
CHARACTERS MAY BE SUPPING FROM BEER GLASSES.]


A:
It near broke my heart to see old Barney hanging there.

B:
Hanging where?

A:
On a big wooden cross.

B:
So why was he doing that?

A:
Well mostly because of the nails.

B:
What, real nails?

A:
Yes.

B:
That's a bit barbaric. You could kill someone like that.

A:
They did. Barney, Jim and that Jesus.

B:
So Barney's dead is he?

A:
Yeah, he was crucified.

B:
Nasty.

A:
He was a good bloke.

B:
Well, he wasn't that good. He was a thief. That's why they crucified him I expect.


A:
Yes, but he was a good thief.

B:
No he wasn't. He got caught.

A:
He never had any luck.

B:
No.

A:
Fancy breaking into a geezer's house when you absolutely posit­ively know he's not going to be there, and then being caught in the act when he comes home totally unexpected.

B:
Yeah. What was that bloke's name again?

A:
Lazarus.

B:
Chance in a million that.

A:
Yeah. Poor old Barney.

B:
Mind you, Jim wasn't much better. I mean, fancy breaking into a house only to find the owner had given everything away.

A:
Blooming Zacchaeus.

B:
And fancy both of them breaking into that gate keepers house...

A:
Only to be spotted by an eyewitness.

A and B:
Blind Bartimaeus.

A:
Still, in their line of work they knew they were taking a risk.

B:
What about that other bloke?

A:
Who, Jesus?

B:
What was his crime?

A:
It was funny that. No one seemed to know.

B:
What was he? A thief? Con man? Fraudster? Mugger?

A:
Rabbi.

B:
What, a holy man?

A:
Apparently. He had a sign on his cross saying he was the king of the Jews. But I heard people saying that he was the Son of God.

B:
If he was the Son of God, what was he doing nailed to a cross?

A:
That's what Jim said. He gave him a really hard time, mocking him and shouting at him to save himself and them.

B:
Jim was a hard man.

A:
As hard as nails.

B:
Not quite... What about Barney?

A:
Barney was a bit different. He seemed to recognise something in Jesus.

B:
It's a pity he didn't meet him earlier. He might not have ended up where he did.

A:
They seemed to get on well enough though, given the circum­stances.

B:
How do you mean

A:
I heard Barney ask if Jesus would remember him when he came into his kingdom.

B:
As if Jesus didn't have enough on his plate.

A:
That's what I thought. But Jesus made him this promise, see?

B:
What kind of promise can you make to a dying man?

A:
He said, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise".

B:
What do you think he meant by that?

A:
That he was for... for... for...

B:
Four sheets to the wind?

A:
No, that he was for... for... for...

B:
For he's a jolly good fellow?

A:
No, that he was for... for... for...

B:
Fortunate?

A:
Hardly. No, that he was forgiven.

B:
Oh.

A:
Yeah, nice thought that.

B:
Any way, I'm going to miss old Barney.


A:
Yeah, but at least his suffering is over.

B:
Was that Jesus the same bloke who's been preaching all over the place?
A:
I suppose so, yeah.

B:
I heard him once.

A:
Oh yeah?

B:
I hope that when he made him that promise he knew what Barney's profession was.

A:
What do you mean? A housebreaker? Well what does that matter now?

B:
Because it was Jesus who said, "In my Father's house are many mansions."

A:
Then Barney really will be in paradise.

© Stephen Deal, 1993